Four 9s vs Five 9s: What’s the Real Cost of the Difference?

On July 20, 2016, a widespread service outage grounded Southwest flights nationwide. Disgruntled customers trying to book flights were met with a webpage instructing them not to refresh their browsers while stranded passengers clogged airport terminals. Twelve hours and more than 2,000 cancelled flights later, Southwest operations were up and running once again, but not without consequence. The Dallas Business Journal reported that outage cost Southwest Airlines between $54M and $82M in lost revenue and increased costs.

While service outages of this scale are few and far between, Southwest’s nightmare scenario is a testament to the financial repercussions of network downtime. Gartner reports that the average cost of network downtime is $5,600 per minute, which extrapolates to nearly $350,000 per hour. Thus, an outage lasting more than four hours has the potential to cost businesses seven figures in lost productivity and revenue.

While it may seem that service outages are impossible to predict, a Network Service Provider’s (NSP’s) Service Level Agreements (SLAs) offers a clue to how much downtime you can expect with its availability percentage. Many boast anywhere from 99.8% to 99.99% network uptime. On the surface, neither .2% nor .01% downtime suggest much consequence. But small numbers have a way of adding up over time. Below is a breakdown of how much downtime you can expect to experience for three commonly used availability percentages:

  • 99.8% – 17.52 hours per year
  • 99.9% – 8.76 hours per year
  • 99.99% – 52.56 minutes per year

At “four nines” of uptime, you can expect to lose almost an hour of service each year, costing you an estimated $295,000 in lost productivity and revenue. If you sign a two-year contract that includes an SLA of this level, you’re essentially agreeing that a loss of half a million dollars to network downtime is an acceptable parameter.

At IFN, our professional network operations personnel and our dedicated fiber optic network allow us to maintain a significantly better uptime. We’re committed to your success, which means keeping you online 99.999% of the time. With our “five nines” of availability, you can expect less than five and a half minutes of downtime each year.

For industries like healthcare — where every millisecond of connectivity counts — we know network reliability is non-negotiable. Activities like high-speed imaging, electronic medical record applications and other data transfers can’t wait for a service outage to be rectified, especially when a patient’s life is at stake. The combination of our extensive fiber network and 99.999% network uptime ensures your data reaches its destination uninterrupted and at high speeds.

Curious about the solutions IFN offers to Indiana health care providers? Check out our case study on Community Health Network!